In a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena, Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Secretary General V. Anandasangaree raised concerns over the plight of about 250 prisoners detained in various prisons all over the country who were engaged in a fast since Monday.
“It is very unfortunate, Your Excellency, that I have no status to speak on their behalf except that I am a Human being, a senior citizen of 82 years old, a lawyer with 50 years of seniority, although not in practice now, 17 years in Parliament, deprived of about 20 years of representation in Parliament by unfair means and having a crime free clear record. I hope these are sufficient enough for me to intervene on behalf of these unfortunate Prisoners. All these years all the Politicians who intervened on behalf of the Prisoners claimed them as political prisoners and their claims had been consistently disputed as offenders by the Minister of Justice. There must be a fixed term of imprisonment as punishment for any offence and that can’t be more then 20 years for any offence in the penal code (Exclusive of fines). If they had been detained for 20 years obviously they are over punished,” he said.
“Your Excellency I am not arguing with you about these cases. I am only pleading with you to deal with their cases with the sympathy each case deserves. Recently a judge had discharged a Bramin Woman who had been in prison for over 20 years. If the case had been taken up for disposal 20 years back, she need not have served a long period in jail. Above all Your Excellency the tradition of the Bramins is that they can’t eat in the presence of others and are governed by many other such rules,” he said.
He urged the President to select a modern building in one of the prisons with all facilities and have all those prisoners transferred to that building under one set of officers, provide them all facilities that they are entitled to, to make them more comfortable, select a few retired judges both male and female and form a few panels to inquire each case and to release them accordingly, ensure that the panels are empowered to deal with them and recommend their release an also ensure that the complicated cases if any can be dealt with by senior lawyers or judges and recommend for release without any punishment since they had already served 20 years in jail .
Anandasangaree urged the President to consider how his predecessors tackled various matters including those of combatants. (Colombo Gazette)